The Tramp Stamp... A Guide to Lower Back Tattoos
by Miss Chris
Tramp stamp - it's degrading terminology for a lower back tattoo, which is one of the most attractive areas to get one, especially for women...
The degrading connotations of "tramp stamp" as terminology
Tramp stamp synonyms are less than lovely. Ass antlers. Butt crack shield. Licence plate. Stripper hieroglyphs.
We've all heard the cheap jokes about tattoos on the lower back - "tramp stamp" being one of the kinder phrases. It seems that everyone who hears those words immediately thinks of torn fishnets, too much fake tan and a super-short skirt that somehow manages to flash a botched blob of ink at the first man to notice, with said blob usually being inked on a girl too young to have a tattoo in the first place.
Photo from Fashionindie
In fact, you are strongly recommended to read this level-headed About.com article on the matter. It has a strong feminist stance on the derogatory term "tramp stamp" and its insiduous connotations.
We know that this is ridiculous and cruel stereotyping. Yet the term "tramp stamp" has been adopted as a positively-intended term by tattoo artists across the globe, particularly in the last year or so - though, for the sake of professionalism, tattoo artists usually only use those words if the clients do first, to avoid insult.
Yes, I did say positively-intended. You know why? Because if you do it right, tramp stamps - or, as we like to call them, lumbar tattoos or lower back tattoos - are hot as f*ck.
Photo from InkArtTattoos
Beauty, Creativity and the lower back tattoo
My first tattoo was on my lower back. I liked the area, and when the design came to me, it seemed to fit my lower back perfectly. I mentioned it to a few friends, and received a moderate amount of teasing. I didn't care, though. To me, tramp stamps were sexy - and lo and behold, as soon as eyes were laid on my perfectly proportioned, skillfully inked lower back, insults transformed into begrudging, stunned, or full-on envious compliments. I had conquered the tramp stamp world, and my lower back tattoo was a source of pride and affirmation.
In fact, if you go in for chakras and such, you'll know that the lower abdomen is the sacral chakra, associated with creativity, inspiration, open-mindedness, the foundation of the emotions, and yes, also sexuality... so having a tattoo on your lower abdomen or lower back is a pretty powerful place to put it. The energies associated with the sacral chakra may inspire you to come up with tattoo designs with personal meanings. Also, there's something of a message in them for denouncers of the "tramp stamp"...
Photo from Mogoel
These are crucial points to consider before even planning a design.
One - wait until you're eighteen before getting getting your first tattoo. There's no rush at all here, and it's nice to give yourself time to consider your perfect design. If you want a tattoo just because all your friends have them, it's probably not the right time for you to get one. Besides, anywhere that takes your money without first asking for ID is potentially run by a skeevy old man who just wants to feel your arse. Believe it or not, it can happen - so be careful.
This brings us to point number two - choosing a good studio and artist. The studio should pretty much smell like a hospital. Do you know how easy it is to contract a blood-transmitted disease like hepatitis from unclean, improperly sterilised equipment? Do you know there was a high-risk situation reported only last year in Canada (and more recently, a confirmed case of HIV contraction in Bali) thanks to some irresponsible idiots with cheap tattoo guns? Scroll down until you find the Vancounver Sun story if you want to read about that. Do your research and choose a well-reputed studio - do NOT let the price be your deciding point, it's not worth it. Similarly, look up your chosen tattoo artist's portfolio online. If they don't have one, run for the hills!
Finally, remember that tattoos are there for life (laser removal is crazy expensive and painful, and doesn't always work effectively.) Put time and effort into planning your tattoo, and make sure it's the right one for you - you'll just know when it is!
The "Tramp Stamp" Epidural Myth
One more thing. If somebody tries to frighten you off by saying that you can't have an epidural during labour with a lower back tattoo in the way, please slap them for me. For one thing, when in labour, your womb contracts FROM THE RIBCAGE DOWNWARDS. This is why epidurals go in the middle of your back. I've had an epidural after having had my lower back inked without even a bat of the eyelid from the doctor, so there! Don't just take my word for it, however. You're welcome to do a little research on the epidural myth. BME is the best tattoo info database in the whoooooole wide world. You can also check out this medical research report.
The Apple power button.
Choosing a Lower Back Tattoo
Like I said, choosing a tattoo requires time, thought, and effort regardless of its placement. Draw and throw away as many designs as you like. Look up tattoos on the internet for inspiration. Talk to your tattooed friends. Go through every portfolio you can get your hands on. You'll come up with something perfect eventually!
The arrows from Konami's Dance Dance Revolution? Quite like that...
Pick an image that means something to you - and of course I'm not talking about your soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend's name and address. Tattoos with meaning don't have to be dedicated to anyone or anything (unless you want them to, of course), they just have to have an emotional response within you. It can be as simple as loving music or as deep as remembering a departed relative. You can also absolutely ignore this and get a tattoo that you've just always liked the idea of - both work out well.
Focus on shape - lower back tattoos look best if they are rectangular or trapezium-shaped. You can move a bit outside of those guidelines, but getting the symmetry right is absolutely crucial.
He is a gentleman skull and he is smoking a pipe. Good.
Make sure it fits your body. When I had my template applied, I asked my artist to put it a little lower down, so it was properly low on my lower back. Why? Because I felt it fit me better. Lower stamps work well on girls with not much in the way of curves, and curvier ladies can make theirs wider, more triangular, and a little higher up with ease. Remember, it should fit YOU perfectly. Spend time in the mirror and go from there.
I'll admit that having the base of your spine tattooed often hurts a bit more than most tattoos - but it's over soon, and totally worth it. Besides, you've just had a completely original art piece etched onto your very skin. You're strong and sexy and your new tattoo looks incredible! Wear that currently infamous "tramp stamp" with pride - tattoos are a beautiful means of exploring your creativity, and you're awesome.
More Tattoos and Piercing Ideas on Mookychick
See more Japanese, Vintage/Burlesque & Gothic DIY Style
Miss Chris has a rather lovely lower back tattoo as you can see...